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Number 151 - October, 2007

Part III

Staff

 


Now Playing
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Fantastic Four - Rise of the Silver Surfer (Blu-ray) Planet Earth: The Complete Series (Blu-ray/HD DVD)
Reign Over Me (HD DVD) Return To House On Haunted Hill (HD DVD)
We Are Marshall (Blu-ray/HD DVD) The Condemned (Blu-ray)
Evan Almighty (HD DVD) Meet The Robinsons (Blu-ray)
Nature's Journey (Blu-ray/HD DVD)  

Number 151 - October-2007 - Part I

Number 151 - October-2007 - Part II

Number 151 - October-2007 - Part III

Movie Reviews Index

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20th Century Fox

2007, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 32 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

1080p

 

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

English/French/Spanish DD 5.1

 

Directed by Tim Story

 

Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Lawrence Fishburne

 

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"Fantastic Four - Rise of the Silver Surfer" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

"Invisible Woman" Sue Storm and "Mr. Fantastic" Dr. Reed Richards are about to be married, when a mysterious alien... the Silver Surfer... crashes the proceedings and heralds Earth's impending destruction. With time running out, the Fantastic Four reluctantly teams up with the nefarious Dr. Doom in a thrilling effort to save our planet!

Commentary

I wasn't the biggest fan of the first Fantastic Four film, and I must say this sequel wasn't much better. It is still full of goofy antics and cheesy dialogue, which never does much for me. Adding to that is the almost nonstop efforts to find humor in every situation, regardless of how goofy it needs to be. I know this is a popcorn film that is supposed to be fun, but I don't think it needs to go this far. The saving grace is the Silver Surfer, who is a very cool character, and some of the effects work done in his sequences are pretty sharp. For these alone I would probably recommend a rental.

Technical

Fox delivers a very solid presentation with this day and date Blu-ray release. The image is devoid of any noise and is full of great three dimensional imagery and crisp effects. Colors look spot on, with only some occasional moments of stylization to add to the punch (look at Sue Storm's eyes). Detail is excellent all around, especially fine detail, but I did notice instances where the movie softens up a bit for no apparent reason. This was my only complaint, but it was never really very distracting. Depth of image is incredible throughout the entire film. While not perfect, it is REALLY close.

Another DTS-HD Master Audio mix for Fox. I am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to decode these soundtracks and do some comparisons to their lossy counterparts. This is a very enveloping mix with a very open soundstage and nice dynamics. Bass is deep and tight, with plenty of tactile effect in some of the more intense action scenes. Fox did a nice job with the surround sound stage. There are some great discrete effects in both surround channels, and I was impressed with the seamless panning from the front of the room to the back. Dialogue is balanced nicely with the rest of the soundtrack, and timbre is spot on.

Extras

Fox returns to the game with some very strong supplements on this day and date release. Special features include a feature commentary and two Java based interactive games (trivia and strategy). Both were a bit on the hokey side, but at least Fox is testing the waters. Also included are deleted scenes, some production features and interviews, a look at the comic series, still galleries, and the trailers.

- Kris Deering -

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Columbia Pictures

2007, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 4 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

1080p

 

English Uncompressed PCM 5.1

English/French DD 5.1

 

Directed by Mike Binder


Starring Don Cheadle, Adam Sandler, Liv Tyler, Jada Pinkett Smith, Saffron Burrows, Donald Sutherland, Mike Binder

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

Themes

Language

Strong

"Reign Over Me" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

Alan Johnson has everything he needs to get through life: a good job, a beautiful and loving wife, and their wonderful children. Yet he feels isolated because he finds having a hard-working job and managing a family too much to handle and has no one to talk to about it.

Charlie Fineman, on the other hand, doesn't have a job or a family. He used to have both until he lost his family on the fateful day of 9/11, and the grief he felt caused him to quit his job and isolate himself from everyone around him. As it turns out, Alan and Charlie were roommates in college, and a chance encounter one night rekindles the friendship they shared. But when Charlie's problems become too much to deal with, Alan is determined to help Charlie come out of his emotional abyss.

Commentary

I must say, Adam Sandler delivers some of his best work out of the comedy genre. He is excellent here, and I was a big fan of his work in Punch Drunk Love (please release that on Blu-ray soon Sony!!)

This is an extremely moving story about relationships and dealing with them in the moment, and when they are lost. Far better than I expected and full of some really tear jerking moments. It is nice to see a film cover so many truths in relationships and look at them from different angles.

Technical

Sony has done an exquisite job with this HD release. Detail is outstanding from start to finish, and I was taken aback by the depth of field and dimension of the images. I would go so far as to say this is one of their best looking releases yet. Contrast is superb and color rendition is spot on. There is some grain in some of the darker moments of the film, but they add to the mood of the film. Truly a superb visual treat from Sony on this one.

The soundtrack is presented in uncompressed PCM 5.1 and is also quite good. I loved the soundtrack selections that appear throughout the film and the use of some great classic rock to add to the mood and feel of the story. Atmosphere is delivered nicely throughout the entire soundstage and imaging is excellent. My only real complaint is the dialogue. At times you can hear an obvious shift in noise floor as someone talks only to have it fade right out when they stop. I understand why it's done, but it was distracting. Otherwise this is a nice mix for the genre and a strong showing on Blu-ray.

Extras

Extras include a behind the scenes production feature, a extended jam session with the lead actors from the film, and a photo montage.

- Kris Deering -

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Warner Bros.

2007, Color, Rated PG, 2 Hr 11 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

1080p

 

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1

English/French DD/DD+ 5.1

 

Directed by McG


Starring Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, Ian McShane, Anthony Mackie, Kate Mara, January Jones, Brian Geraghty

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"We Are Marshall" (Blu-ray/HD DVD Hybrid)

Synopsis

Football is a game that knocks you down, then expects you to get back up. Life hit the West Virginia town of Huntington and its Marshall University even harder. When it did, Jack Lengyel came by to help pull them onto their feet by taking the job no one wanted: rebuilding the Marshall football program only months after a plane crash wiped out Marshall's beloved Thundering Herd.

Matthew McConaughey portrays Lengyel, the energetic, compassionate coach of inexperienced players whose chances of victory are slim and none. They'll go with the slim. And as they do, their true-life story of heart, healing, and football will thrill and inspire you. It's game day. Time to play till the whistle blows!

Commentary

Anyone who knows me, realizes I am not a football fan. You won't ever catch me watching the game on Sunday or Monday night, I've just never found it that interesting. But I must say, I consistently like football movies. They have a way of capturing what is best about the game. This one isn't so much about football though; it's more about a town coming to terms with a horrible accident and trying to move past it. I can only imagine what a loss like this would do to anyone, let alone an entire town. This film does a great job of at least providing a glimpse. A very moving story.

Technical

Warner has delivered a superb presentation on both formats here. I've been really impressed with their latest offerings, and this is definitely no exception. Detail is outstanding throughout, and I loved the contrast of the image. Blacks were inky, and shadow detail was excellent. Both added to a very three dimensional image that shows off how good HD can really look. I would give this one a perfect five if it weren't for some slight softness in longer shots at times. Otherwise this is a GREAT looking image.

Both formats get a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack delivered in 48/16 resolution. While I'm glad to see more and more lossless soundtracks hitting the market, I wish studios would deliver full resolution soundtracks on all releases. The formats are certainly capable of it. Dynamics are excellent here, and I was impressed with the level of ambience and presence during the games. Most of this film takes place off the field though, but that didn't seem to hurt the atmosphere of the soundstage. A very balanced and impressive soundtrack.

Extras

Extras include a feature on coaches who have overcome adversity and the theatrical trailer. The HD DVD is a hybrid release with the SD presentation on the flipside.

- Kris Deering -

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Universal

2007, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 36 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English/French DD+ 5.1

 

Directed by Tom Shadyac


Starring Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, John Goodman

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

No

Language

No

"Evan Almighty" (HD DVD Hybrid)

Synopsis

Steve Carell is at his hilarious best as junior congressman Evan Baxter, whose wish to "change the world" is heard by none other than God. When God appears with the perplexing request to build an ark, Evan is sure he is losing it. But soon mysterious deliveries of wood and tools are being dropped on his doorstep, animals of every shape and size are flocking to him two by two, and his self-absorbed life goes from overnight success to almighty mess!

Commentary

The sequel to the hit Bruce Almighty, this new movie takes a different route. The first film was quite funny, but a lot of the humor was geared more at an adult audience. Sure it was teen friendly, but some of the sexual overtones were geared a bit higher up the age curve. This new movie is definitely a family film and should be viewed as such. I didn't find it that funny, though I did chuckle a few times, but I did find it to have its heart in the right place by the end of it.

Technical

Universal does a good job with the HD presentation here, but I found it a tad dark. Don't know why, it just seemed dark to me. Contrast looked good though, and shadow detail was decent.

Colors are very good with no apparent bleeding or noise. Fine detail is excellent, though I found some of the longer shots to be a bit on the softer side. The special effects blended in well with the live action, but there was no doubt about what you were looking at. Overall a nice effort from Universal, but not their best.

Despite their recent trend of including a lossless TrueHD soundtrack, this one only gets a DD+ 5.1 mix. I wouldn't say I was overly disappointed, but I would like to see more consistency in providing lossless or uncompressed soundtracks from studios. My biggest complaint on this release was the dialogue. There was obvious strain through most of the film, which was surprising for a film of this budget. This resulted in a rather harsh tone from voices. The rest of the mix was good though. Spatial cues provided a nice balanced soundstage that extended nicely into the surrounds, and dynamic range was dead on when it needed to be.

Extras

Universal has included some of its U-Control features for this release. You can select from three different U-Control options or have them all going at once to select from on the fly. These include a PiP commentary from various members of the cast and crew, pop up facts, and a look at the ark building book from the film with historical facts. There are also deleted scenes, an animal feature, a game, interviews, and production features. This HD DVD is also web-enabled and allows users to buy environmentally safe items in theme with the film. There are also some trailers to download.

- Kris Deering -

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R&B Films

2007, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 7 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

1080i

 

(BD) DTS-HD MA 5.1

(HD DVD) DTS-HD 5.1

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

No

Language

No

"Nature's Journey" (Blu-ray/HD DVD)

Synopsis

Escape to a mysterious inner universe where nature and imagination meet to form a realm of extraordinary beauty. Let Nature's Journey unleash a brand new sensory experience in a genre-bending mix of location filming, subtle computer-generated imagery, exotic musical soundscapes and artistic graphic enhancements that draw you deep into the magical heart of our planet Earth. Produced in High Definition by Video Artist John Banks and featuring a 96/24 Soundtrack by Michael Stearns, Nature's Journey is a sensation of natural sights and sounds transformed by the unique artistry of these visionary filmmakers.

Commentary

I don't know how many of our readers ever had access to the D-Theater format, but this release reminded me a bit of The Beauty of Japan demo tape that JVC released. It is a collage of backdrops in different settings set to tranquil music. Careful, because it could put you to sleep. Excellent for background visuals or demonstrations at a party or store, but not as compelling as a sit and watch kind of thing.

Technical

R&B Films released this under their "Digital Reference Series" banner. Evidently they made sure that the bit rate for both video and audio was pegged, allowing for the best viewing opportunity possible on both formats. This also meant separate encodes for both the HD DVD and Blu-ray versions.

This could almost be a test case for whether or not the increased bit rate potential of Blu-ray actually equates to a better A/V experience. But that is a flawed way of thinking. Since every movie or video is completely different than the next, each will present different levels of difficulty in compression. This release doesn't look like it would be overly hard to encode, but I wonder how much the interlaced nature of the footage played into things.

Both releases are presented in 1080i, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was from a 30fps source. If that is the case, than the visual results will vary a lot, depending on the playback chain. Most Blu-ray players on the market won't convert to 1080p properly if they are working with a 2-2 cadence. HD DVD is the same. Most displays don't either.

With that in mind, I used a video processor that handles both 2-3 and 2-2 cadences perfectly, so regardless, I was covered. This is good looking video, but it wasn't as good as I was expecting. The CGI effects that have been added in detract a bit from the presentation in my opinion. Details are smeared as a result. I've seen a lot of nature footage in HD that had more detail and pop than this.

The master also seems to suffer from some issues as well. I noticed some obvious banding and posterization in some of the skies throughout the short film. The level of artifacts varied greatly from scene to scene, but the same issues were apparent regardless of the format, leading me to believe it was an issue with the source material, not the encode. All in all this is some great looking nature footage, but it has a little ways to go before I would call it reference HD video.

Both versions of this release feature a 96/24 soundtrack, but they are delivered differently. Since Blu-ray does have considerably more bandwidth to work with, R&B Films put a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray release. The HD DVD gets a 3Mbps DTS-HD soundtrack. Unfortunately, at this time, I have no way of decoding the DTS-HD MA soundtrack, but my HD DVD player will decode the DTS-HD soundtrack. I thought both sounded very good, though again the music can sway you into a sleepy state. Dynamics are excellent though, and the soundstage is very airy. Surrounds are used extensively to add to the soundstage and ambience of the track.

Extras

No extras on this one.

- Kris Deering -

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BBC Video

2007, Color, Unrated, 9 Hr 10 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

1080p

 

English DD 5.1

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

No

"Planet Earth: The Complete Series" (Blu-ray/HD DVD)

Synopsis

With an unprecedented production budget of $25 million, and from the makers of Blue Planet: Seas of Life, comes the epic story of life on Earth. Five years in production, over 2,000 days in the field, using 40 cameramen filming across 200 locations, shot entirely in high definition, this is the ultimate portrait of our planet.

It's a stunning television experience that captures rare action, impossible locations and intimate moments with our planet's best-loved, wildest and most elusive creatures. From the highest mountains to the deepest rivers, this blockbuster series takes you on an unforgettable journey through the daily struggle for survival in Earth's most extreme habitats. Planet Earth takes you to places you have never seen before, to experience sights and sounds you may never experience anywhere else.

Commentary

I don't watch television at home, but I swear every friend I have kept telling me about how great this show was when it aired on The Discovery Channel. I was glad to have the chance to review it on both formats, and I must say, I understand what all the hype is about. This is a GREAT series. If nature documentaries were this cool when I was growing up, I would have been glued in from go. The show covers a wide range of topics from animal species, forests, continents, ocean life, and more. The production value is incredible throughout, with each sequence adding to the next. If you are even remotely interested in nature documentaries, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not checking this one out.

Technical

I think everyone who is truly into HD just loves watching nature stuff. There is a lot of it out there, and everyone I know with an HDTV, even from back in the old days, goes on and on about Discovery HD and the cool nature footage. I understand why, but I still find it amusing. There is no doubt that there is some captivating footage here, and its only enhanced by the fact that its in HD.

The image is video based, so make sure you have your equipment set up appropriately (i.e., not in 1080p24). Most of the time I was so distracted by what was going on, that I had a hard time focusing on the quality of the presentation. This isn't perfect by any means, but it's very good. Detail is consistently solid, but it does have a bit of a filtered video look at times. Banding is noticed more often than I would like, but I imagine that could have been the result of the cameras used. Some of the darker scenes have some noise and blocking, but it's hardly distracting. I did notice some compression noise in some of the busier sequences (like lots of birds), but again this wasn't very disruptive to the viewing experience. I got to watch a few episodes on TV finally in HD, and I would definitely say this presentation is a big step up from the cable broadcast.

This maybe one of the only HD releases to date that I've seen that is stuck with a 448 kbps Dolby Digital soundtrack. I don't understand why, but that is what we get. The narrative is solid enough, and the voice work never sounds compromised or thin. The score is engaging, but compared to some of the other nature stuff out on HD, it doesn't fare as well (Nature's Journey is an excellent example). The sounds of the animals and nature are quite good though, and what I would expect from a documentary of this nature.

Extras

Sorry, no extras on either release.

- Kris Deering -

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Warner Premiere

2007, Color, Unrated, 1 hr 21 mins

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

1080p

 

English DD+ 5.1

 

Directed by Victor Garcia


Starring Amanda Righetti, Cerina Vincent, Erik Palladino, Tom Riley

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Strong

Sex

Yes

Language

Strong

"Return To House On Haunted Hill" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

Sarah Wolfe was the only living survivor from the massacre at the Vanacutt Mansion, but no one believed her claims that ghosts were responsible for the gruesome murders that took place there.

Now, her recent and questionable suicide leaves her sister, Ariel, no choice but to devote herself to finding out who - or what - was responsible for her death. Ariel discovers that Sarah sent her the diary of the sadistic Dr. Vanacutt just before she died, offering clues to the diabolical evil that resides within the house. But the diary also makes Ariel a target in a deadly treasure hunt that leads a group of unwitting victims back to the Vanacutt Mansion, reawakening the terror imprisoned within the house on the hill. This time, the house and the evil spirits inside are out to make sure that no one leaves alive.

Commentary

To my surprise, I actually became a fan of the first film in this series. Sure, it was a bit of a B-Movie with some silliness attached, but it had some genuinely creepy moments that made it work rather well for me as a horror film.

This sequel doesn't have nearly the production value, and the acting is a step down, so it doesn't work quite as well. The pacing is slow and tension never builds to the level I was hoping for. What sets it apart is the interactivity feature that allows you to steer the plot at certain points throughout the film. This reminded me of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books I used to read as a child, only this isn't a kid's movie. For this release you can also just watch the director's cut of the film without the interactivity.

This is the first film on either of the new HD formats to offer this type of interactivity. Was it worth it? Sort of I guess. It is novel, and it was interesting to see where it took the film (usually to a sexier scene or a gorier scene). It didn't work perfectly though. The first time through, my player (Toshiba HD-A35) locked up on the second choice completely. The next time it played through fine, though it was a bit slow after I selected what I wanted to do. Yes, it is an interesting concept, and for the most part, it worked as advertised, but I don't think it made me like the film anymore.

Technical

This is a straight to video release, so my expectations weren't that high for presentation. The image quality is good, but nothing to write home about. The image is definitely softer than what we normally see from the newer HD releases, and it's consistent throughout. Contrast is also lacking. Most of the black levels are elevated a bit and hurt the dimensionality of the image. It gives the image a washed out appearance and rather flat look at times. Close-ups tend to look better than medium shots, but not by a large margin. This is still a good step up from an up-converted DVD, but a few steps down from a reference HD transfer.

The 5.1 soundtrack is good, and what I would expect from a direct to video horror. Bass is ominous throughout most of the film, but a little on the bloated side. The score can be a bit dominating at times, but there are nice subtle qualities to the ambience in the track that add a bit to the tension in the film. Surround effects are good, and better than I would expect for this type of production. I noticed some slight lip synch issues if I played the movie with the interactive feature on, but there were no issues with the standard version.

Extras

Extras include a gallery for the characters, additional scenes, and a music video.

- Kris Deering -

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Lionsgate

1987, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 24 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English DTS-HD 7.1

English DD 5.1 EX

 

Directed by Scott Wiper


Starring Steve Austin, Vinnie Jones, Robert Mammone, Victoria Mussett, Manu Bennett

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Strong

Sex

Themes

Language

Strong

"The Condemned" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Jack Conrad is a death row prisoner in a corrupt Central American prison who is "purchased" by a wealthy television producer to take part in an illegal reality game show. Brought to a desolate island, Conrad finds himself trapped in a fight to the death against nine other condemned killers from all corners of the world. With no possible escape - and millions of viewers watching the uncensored violence online - Conrad must use all his strength to remain the last man standing, and earn his only chance at freedom.

Commentary

To say I had low expectations about this film would be an understatement. The last WWE film I watched was The Marine, and that was REALLY bad. Thankfully this one was quite a bit better. The biggest difference is the acting. This is a film about a bunch of big tough murderers killing each other on an island, and most of the tough guys aren't big actors. So the filmmakers didn't give them much acting to do, just action. This worked out a lot better. No silly lines, no horrendous acting, just action and tension. The film even managed a bit of a message about our action hungry society. While it won't win any awards, it wasn't a bad time at all.

Technical

Lionsgate delivers a nice HD presentation on this one. I was surprised to see that they used VC1 for their encode as well. Detail is quite good, and the print seems to be in pristine shape. There were times that I thought the image seemed a bit processed, rolling off the fine detail a tad.

Colors are natural, but whites are overdriven slightly. This helps with contrast but it adds some problems later in the film. There is some obvious macroblocking in some of the sky backgrounds. A great example is around Stone Cold after the helicopter crash near the end. Look at the white sky around him and the girl and you will see obvious blocking. Luckily, this is the only time I saw any type of digital artifacts, and it was only there a few moments. Overall, this is one of Lionsgate's stronger transfers and a very good looking HD presentation.

Seems Lionsgate has moved away from the uncompressed PCM soundtracks they've been including on most of their releases. Instead, we get a DTS-HD High Resolution soundtrack. Unfortunately, my PS3 only allows for the 1.5 Mbps core soundtrack to be decoded. Still, this was a very good 7.1 mix, with my only real complaint stemming from the slightly overcooked bass track. While it had nice presence, it was a bit bloated. Dynamics didn't suffer too much, but it was noticed on occasion. Surrounds are engaging and there are quite a few great pans in the soundtrack from the front to rear soundstage. Dialogue is solid through most of the film with only a few instances of slight strain.

Extras

Extras include a collection of production features, two feature commentaries, some promo features, and a look back at the 1998 meeting of the movies stars. The trailer and storyboards are also included.

- Kris Deering -

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Walt Disney Pictures

2007, Color, Rated G, 1 hour 35 mins

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

1080p

 

English Uncompressed PCM 5.1

English/French/Spanish DD 5.1

 

Directed by Stephen Anderson


Starring Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry, Matthew Josten 

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

No

Language

No

"Meet The Robinsons" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Join a brilliant young inventor named Lewis as he sets off on a time-traveling journey to find the family he never knew. In the fantastical world of 2037, hip-hoppin' frogs and dogs that wear glasses are as common as talking dinosaurs. In an amazing twist, Lewis discovers that the fate of the future rests in his hands, but he can't save it alone - he'll need every bit of assistance he can get from the wonderfully wacky Robinson family, who help him learn to keep moving forward and never stop believing in himself.

Commentary

I find it surprising just how much Disney has changed over the last decade. What once was the premiere animation studio on the planet has now become a playground of half baked ideas and too many pop culture references. I am not sure if they thought their move to 3-D animation would change things, but if there is something they could learn from their Pixar companions it's that animation is only a small part of the equation.

Disney has left its roots of compelling stories and fairy tales that appeal to the masses and instead relies on colorful and simple animation that feels like it was made by animators on Jolt binges. What happened to great storytelling and epic fairy tales? It wasn't long ago that we had films like The Lion King and Tarzan, now we have Chicken Little, Home on the Range and this. I miss the old Disney. 

Technical

I was hoping for the chance to see this during its theatrical run to see how it looked in Real-D 3-D. I've had the chance to see quite a few films that way and was always blown away, and I know Disney created this with the intention of presenting it in 3-D. The animation style is simplistic, but it has plenty of dimension and lots of poppy colors. So basically, it's a feast for the eyes. Not nearly as detailed and impressive as the latest Pixar and Sony Animation films, but still a dazzling spectacle of images.

I didn't see anything wrong with this presentation at all. The image is devoid of any kind of noise or compression artifacts, and the simple animation has dimension to spare. Colors are gorgeous, and you'd swear they picked most of them just because of how good they pop on the screen. I'm sure this will be used for HD demos for some time to come (or at least until Cars makes it out!)

I'm a bit on the fence for the audio which almost seems a bit too aggressive for the material. Bass is substantial at times, with some impressive infrasonics, but it doesn't really match with the nature of the film which appears to be geared toward a really young crowd. Personally, I think it could almost intimidate its core audience in the right theater.

Foley effects are also a bit distracting at times. There were quite a few instances when the grass the characters were stepping on was louder than the dialogue and came off like a high noise floor. The balance just seemed off in that respect. The surrounds are used quite nicely though. There are some really cool panning effects throughout the film, and the entire soundstage is engaged through most of the story. While not quite a reference soundtrack, it's very close.

Extras

Extras include some deleted scenes, a bowler hat game for the kids, a look at some real life inventors and their inventions, some music videos, a feature commentary, and a collection of scenes for demonstrations.

- Kris Deering -

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